10 Industry Experts Share Their Recent Insights on Working in Japan

10 Industry Experts Share Their Recent Insights on Working in Japan

From small aha! moments to weightier insights, 10 C-suite executives and industry experts shared their most recent revelations regarding working in Japan. 

Insights were selected from this discussion thread hosted in Jason Ball’s Business in Japan LinkedIn group in answer to the below question. 

10 Industry Experts Share Their Recent Insights on Working in Japan

Without further ado, here is our pick of 10 of the most compelling insights on everything from Japanese-style decision making to sales revelations to unexpected delights. 

Note: Slight edits were made for grammar, punctuation, and clarity. 


1. On Japanese-style decision making.

Japan Insight 1

"Decision Making Follows (in that order): Hierarchy Order > Rules > Social Norms > Customer Satisfaction > Judgement."

Frederic Peyrot 

Help Companies Innovate, Build Successful Products, and Become Future-proofed | Altera Consulting


2. On how to make a convincing case in Japan.

Japan Insight 2

"Everything follows a construct (such as language, business, marketing). Everyone believes in the same basic constructs (such as classic marketing methodologies). Learn the constructs and you can speak the language (in both a technical sense and practical!) Use this to your advantage when negotiating or convincing local counterparts of your plans."

Robert Purss 

Bi-lingual Marketing Specialist Japan | Brand Manager Mentos


3. On Japan’s bureaucracy and regulations.

Japan Insight 3

"My most recent insight regarding doing business in Japan is about 'gaining credentials.' Once you gain your credentials, your chances increase for finding a long-term partner."

Philip Cho 

FMCG specialist for Asian Market | Wine & Spirits, Confectionery, Sauce & Spices, Snacks and Bakeries


4. On rethinking your Japanese sales strategy.

Japan Insight 4

"The approach to sales in Japan is very different compared to western countries! Here in Japan, when you hire a sales team member, you're arguably paying them for their connections and less for their sales skills. Obviously, it doesn't mean sales skills are unnecessary. But Japan is rooted so much in connections, that approaching sales through cold calls/emails is usually pointless. You need an 'in' to the company to even get discussions started!"

Asa Quesenberry

Founder at DroNext | Co-Host at KansaiKollective 


5. On the benefits of remote work for Japanese society. 

Japan Insight 5

"That remote work can work in Japan. Not just in gaishikei companies, but in more traditional Japanese companies, too. It's not without its difficulties (getting trained, building relationships with coworkers, etc.) but it can be successful if done properly. This opens up a whole new world of employment in Japan, e.g. bringing working mothers back into the workforce, revitalizing rural areas, and so on. It just needs leadership to take advantage."

Paul Roberts 

Tokyo-based IT recruiter | paulroberts.jp


6. On the Japanese-style of business.

Japan Insight 6

"Business in Japan is built on trust and to gain trust takes time. Personal relations are still the most valuable asset."

Gerhard Dovids 

Experienced Manager with a passion for Innovation and Sustainability | Cross Border Innovations


7. On long-term perspectives and patience. 

Japan insight 7

"Doing business in Japan requires patience and looking at things on a larger and long-term perspective. More or less like growing a Bamboo tree. Wait till the roots grow and [then] see the tree grow tall in no time."

Gowtham Baskaran 

Vice President & Regional Director (Philippines, Japan & S.Korea) | Nityo Infotech Services


8. On getting hired for senior positions.

Japan Insight 8

"In Japan and in general in Asia, networking is possibly more important than anywhere else. If you look at GaijinPot and other recruiting sites, then you are restricted to those specific jobs and for the most part positions that have little to no path to upper-level management.

"If you want to enter into higher-level positions, I recommend getting hired into companies (Japanese or International) outside of Japan first, then try to come to Japan. If you get hired as a 'local hire,' you are treated like a Japanese (depending on the company, your work environment i.e., over-time, work obligations, etc., will differ).

"Hidden gems: If your Japanese level is proficient enough or you're willing to 'gaman' or endure more traditional Japanese working environments, working at small to mid-sized companies might give you a comparative advantage since they are looking for foreign talent even though they don't want to admit it. This is where the networking will come into play."

Greg Koch

CEO at Hands On Kyoto LLC


9. On building trust with Japanese clients and partners. 

Japan Insight 9

"Your word is your bond."

Jim Weisser 

Co-Founder and CEO at SignTime K.K.


10. On an unexpected delight.  

Japan Insight 10

"Co-working offices usually have great coffee!" 

Maurizio Raffone

Chief Financial Officer at Credify Pte. Ltd. 


And that’s all for now, folks! To read all the contributions, visit this post in the Business in Japan group on LinkedIn. Stay tuned for our next insight-gathering session and a chance to get your insights featured here!

Note: The opinions and views expressed in this article are those of the contributors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy of TokyoMate KK. 


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